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Sunday, October 4, 2015

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YouTube videos let viewers enjoy junk food vicariously

Tags: Heebonics
Harley Morenstein, the host of Epic Meal Time, with ingredients for the Meatball Deathstar.

Have you ever wanted to see someone eat time? What about a gun, a cult or a library?

Well, the Epic Meal Time crew doesn’t eat any of that, despite what they say in their videos. Instead they eat pizza covered in onion rings, fries, burgers and chicken nuggets. Then there’s the Meatball Deathstar, a meatball approximately the size of a soccer ball stuffed with tortellini, meat sauce and vegetables, placed on a huge round of garlic bread and smothered in extra meat sauce.

Those meals – and many like them – are all part of Epic Meal Time’s series of weekly videos of the crew making and eating food that’s extremely high in calories and fat. In less than three months, the videos have garnered more than 10 million views on YouTube.

Harley Morenstein, 25, along with a few of his friends, all Montrealers, came up with the idea for Epic Meal Time based on personal experience.

“Normally, it was just called Sunday,” he says. “Then [me and my friends] decided to start filming it and showing it. “We all love eating. I don’t know if you can tell on camera, but I’m like 6-6 and 260 pounds – I’m a big guy.

“So we’ve always been eating a lot, and we decided to get more creative with it and film it. At the end of the day, it’s basically just myself and my partner Sterling [Toth] – he’s the guy holding the camera in the videos. We’re the creative forces behind it.”

Epic Meal Time’s first culinary creation, the Worst Pizza Ever, is topped with delicacies from various fast-food chains. It has 5,210 calories and 286 grams of fat.

Then there’s the Angry French- Canadian, also known as “the greasiest sandwich in Canada.” Picture 50-cent hot dogs and a few pounds of poutine piled onto French-toasted baguettes with a Quebec maple syrup topping. This very Canadian concoction weighs in at 5,343 calories and 207 grams of fat.

When asked about the most disgusting thing he’s eaten with Epic Meal Time, Morenstein says he initially doubted the wisdom of combining poutine with maple syrup.

“It was delicious, but initially I thought it was going to be gross,” he says. “It ended up being good, and not only that, I’ve remade that sandwich personally for myself and I put mustard on it as well. And it was excellent.”

These creations are nothing, however, when compared to Epic’s first stab at dessert. Black Legend is the “fully loaded crepe” that will “take your sweet tooth for a magical ride through Candy Land,” Morenstein says in the video.

The chocolate crepe is stuffed with deep-fried pastries, including apple pie, cinnamon twists and McDonald’s McFlurry balls that are covered in chocolate-chipcookie crumbs and deep-fried. It’s held together using “chocolate glue” – chocolate cake and icing – and is 19,177 calories and has 684 grams of fat.

While he thought Epic Meal Time would be an online hit, Morenstein had no idea it would become as popular as it has.

“When we first started [Epic Meal Time] we did a pizza video, which was like we put hamburgers on a pizza… At the time I [said], ‘This will probably be pretty popular.’

“I was just like let’s prepare [more] in case it happens to be popular. And it was. Did we think it would get over 10 million views in three months? No.

“Especially now in the New Year, I can only imagine that it’ll increase more so [in popularity],” he continues.

“People are trying to diet, people are trying to be health conscious. There’s a lot of negative media attention on obesity problems, and paying attention to organic food. People are trying to change their lifestyles – less Mc- Donald’s, less KFC Double Downs, more whatever it is that would be healthier, but at the end of the day people still love junk food. I think a lot of people vicariously eat it all through us.”

For those who want to make the Epic creations at home, Morenstein says a cookbook is in the works, because they get a lot of people asking for the recipes. Other plans for expansion, he jokes, include “Epic Meal Time in Imax 3-D, directed by James Cameron.”

As for where the ideas for their Epic creations come from, Morenstein says it’s usually pretty random.

“Maybe I’ll be sitting there and it’ll come to me while I’m daydreaming. Or I’ll be inspired by something and put in a phone call to my buddies. [Then] we’ll start to say ‘and then we’ll do this, and then this and this’ until we’ve taken something that was a crazy idea and mutated it into something even crazier. I think we’re pretty creative guys, and together as a bunch we get even more creative.”

To see Epic Meal Time embark on their culinary adventures (including consuming the Epic Eggroll), visit www.epicmealtime.com.

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